Twitter For Creatives: A Helpful Resource Or A Distraction?

by Callum Chapman

October 11, 2010 in design Resources

Twitter is most definitely one of the best forms of online marketing, and we all know it. It offers a way to mingle with your fans in short and sweet messages, as well as promote your sites content, your companies promotional deals or something completely different! For this reason, it is generally a good idea to have an account. But is Twitter for designers really a helpful resource that we need, or is it just another way to get distracted and find excuses to not do work?

Twitter For Creatives: A Helpful Resource Or A Distraction?

How it is helpful…

Twitter is a big thing in the design and development community, with hundreds and thousands of graphic and web designers, developers, illustrators and photographers tweeting away on a day-to-day basis. Why? Because in reality it’s there to help us. There are several main reasons why we can’t get off of Twitter, all of which are summarised below.

We Learn Things

Twitter is a great way to learn things. Designers and developers tweet on a regular schedule to keep their uses up to date with not only what they’re working on but also any problems they run into, the solution and how to avoid it in the first place. I see tweets every single day with people informing others of things that they found worked well to solve solutions, and things that just generally make things worse. One of the biggest things I see is people tweeting about Drupal and Joomla and annoying errors they run into – not long later I usually see a tweet following on from the error they found with a working solution or quick fix.

We Can Ask Things

It’s a great place to quickly upload a screenshot of your work, to link to a design your currently working on or share a piece of code that isn’t working as you think it should. If you’re followed by people in the same career as you, you’re bound to get a bunch of helpful replies with some great feedback and suggestions – I guess you can kind of think of it as a “personal Google” with real-time responses from real people that you may or may not know.

We Can Find and Share Links

Everyone shares links once in a while on Twitter, if not handfuls of them every day! Sharing links to articles you like, whether your own work or the work of others is a great way to find content that is relevant and helpful to you, and allows you to keep up to date with the latest going-on’s and trends in the design and development world.

We Can Build Strong Relationships

Twitter, like most social networking sites, is a great way to build new relationships, and strengthen the ones you already have. It’s actually a super easy way to make new online friends and even real-life friends. I for example met one of my very good friends through Twitter – we were tweeting away at each other this time last year, and now it’s safe to say (after meeting on more than several occasions) that we are good friends. Taking this as an example, from it I have met a bunch of new people who are in the same or similar industry as me (I don’t know many other people in person with the same hobbies or career) but have also been able to take on more work as I know more people to outsource particular parts of projects out to which I’m not strong enough in. For example, I outsource any coding work to a friend I met via Twitter, which helps both me and him – all of this possible because of Twitter! It is also a great way to find new clients, therefore leading to more work and more money.

Being a freelancer, being able to build relationships with people over Twitter also makes it a little less lonely. If you’re self-employed and sit in the office by yourself the majority of the day it’s easy to get bored and lonely – with Twitter it is easy to brighten up your day by just replying to other peoples tweets.

All of this is great, but is it too much of a distraction?

So yes, Twitter is superb. It can lead to so many opportunities in both our professional and personal lives, whether leading to new clients or new friends, new skills or new hobbies. But is it all too much of a distraction? If you’re a regular Twitter user, how often do you click onto the Twitter site or launch your favorite Twitter application, or even pick up your phone whilst not at the computer to check your Twitter stream? It’s all in good faith but have you ever thought about maybe you’re doing it all too much and it’s ruining your productivity and how much you’re getting done? There are several ways in which Twitter can slow down your workflow, all of which are summarised below along with tips to avoid being distracted.

Finding New Articles (And Reading Them!)

As mentioned above Twitter is a great place to find new articles, and if you see a tweet to an article that looks interesting and appeals to you there is a high chance you’ll click on it. This isn’t a bad thing – you’re helping out the site it is on, as well as (most probably) picking up some new skills or tips and tricks, or maybe it’s just to make you smile. But is it distracting you? Do you find you click through to articles several times a day and sit there for a reasonable length of time and read them all when you’re meant to be finishing off this design, starting on that little piece of coding or planning that next photo shoot? If that’s the case – don’t read it! Bookmark it instead – either in your browsers bookmarking system or on a bookmarking site such as Delicious. You could even put the in your favorite tweets! The idea is to look at them after you’ve finished what you’re doing, whether that be at your lunch break, later on in the day, some bedtime reading (maybe you have an iPad?) or even the next day or week! Schedule a time to catch up on these links. In fact, how did you find this post? If you clicked through via Twitter but are meant to be working, save the page and read it later – schedule a time to read it!

Feeling Like You Need To Tweet XX Times An Hour

To increase your followers on Twitter it’s a good idea to tweet throughout the morning, afternoon, evening and for some all night long, too! Whether it’s a simple retweet, or something to do with what you’re currently doing/working on. This however is a huge distraction, and can be greatly minimised by using a Twitter scheduler. There are a few applications that allow you to schedule your tweets, one of the biggest being HootSuite. Obviously you can’t tweet about what you’re currently working on in advance, but you can schedule retweets and opinions, and then just tweet less throughout the working day. Set yourself a time to schedule your retweets – it should only take 10-20 minutes a day if you’re scheduling one retweet an hour (if of course you know what you want to retweet!).

What Do You Think?

We know Twitter is a very helpful resource for us creatives, but we also know it’s a very distracting tool! What do you think about the subject? Is it more of a distraction than it is a “resource”? How often do you tweet a day and do you feel or know it’s holding you back from getting more work done, and ultimately cost you because you’re missing deadlines or just generally not taking on as much work because of your Twitter addiction? If you’ve already sussed it out that Twitter is a distracting tool if left open all day, how do you limit your time on it? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About Callum Chapman

Self-Employed Blogger, Author, Graphic Designer and Illustrator. Founder of Circlebox Blog and DesignGiveaways.

  • Irina Delgado

    Oct 11th

    I think that all you need is constancy, discipline and be a good manager with your time.

    Cheers and success.

  • Stephanie

    Oct 11th

    I think Twitter is definitely more of a resource than a distraction. Although it does take time away from our work day or a design project, it allows designers to be more educated, to grow in our profession and to connect with others. Twitter is my library for new blogs, tutorials and other tools every day. #TwitterWins

  • vlad

    Oct 11th

    I’m going to tweet this, then ignore it. Wait…I just lost my idea…

  • Tony

    Oct 11th

    It really does feel like a distraction at times, or should I say most of the time. Not just Twitter, but any social/community site where you follow others and in turn use it to market yourself. Even RSS feeds from sites like this consume a lot of my time.

    I just keep refining my methods of how I go about using them. Certain days or times of day are better than others. And what I used to follow months ago, may not be needed anymore.

  • cazazz

    Oct 11th

    You’ve summed it up really well. I’d say the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Batching twitter use into set time blocks is the best tip for staying productive. If you want to be part of an ongoing conversation or are waiting for advice, don’t check every 10 mins – the tweets will still be there when you get back. Not getting sucked into reading articles on the spot is sound advice too; I must make a point of doing that (after this article!).

  • Kelly

    Oct 12th

    This is a really good debate and one of the reasons I can’t decide whether to join Twitter or not. I can see the usefulness of it’s qualities, yet I don’t want it to end up like the first few months of joining Facebook where you are hooked and do nothing but continuously update it.

    However, I think it would be a very useful tool to getting a quick solution to problems and just generally being in touch with the world and what’s going on. In a way, it’s like an online newspaper/magazine of all genres and gets people of all ages talking about current affairs – something which is normally a difficult thing to do.

    Therefore, in my opinion, Twitter is a good thing more than a bad thing. We just have to learn self control.

  • Ryan

    Oct 12th

    I haven’t been able to find a good use for Twitter. 140 characters isn’t enough to say anything worthwhile. And most people tweet too often to be able to quickly find useful links. As of right now, sifting through blogs and simple Google searches seems to be just as effective for me and more visually appealing. Then again, maybe I just don’t know how to use Twitter effectively. Not knocking Twitter in general, but it’s not for me.

  • pamela munro

    Oct 12th

    There are a lot of casting people and agents on twitter – & I do keep abreast of what’s going on out there by hooking into them via twitter.

  • Meri

    Oct 14th

    My experience is that Twitter is a great source if you follow the right key people/organizations.

  • Mia Lazar

    Oct 14th

    Whos can get visitors from Twitter which buying things is best of the best marketer.

  • Nottingham Web Design

    Oct 15th

    Great article, I agree with @Meri !

  • Jessica

    Oct 15th

    I’m not a big fan of twitter. I suppose I have not used it to its full extent, but working a full-time design job, what time is left over for personal design advances is valuable. I’d rather hit up websites I know for a fact will deliver substantial articles / resources, or do a quick search for them myself. I’d rather go to a mad-house of creativity-site like DeviantART to find inspiration, than to sift through statuses or otherwise irrelevant links. Perhaps I am following the wrong people, but the whole process of “starting up” and finding people to follow, and having others follow me, is just not enjoyable.

  • Hans

    Oct 16th

    Just follow the right people, delete the rest and Googling for inspiration will be a thing of the past! Kinda :D

  • Rachael Arnott

    Oct 21st

    I find Twitter a good resource with designers posting links to their own blogs or to other useful info. It’s also helping me to network more. I only take a few moments during the day to tweet and use it more at night. I think it comes down to using your time wisely. If you’ve got something quick and easy to share… do it between projects. If you’re looking for links to articles, tutorials etc… find them once your work is done.

  • Jay Rieckmann

    Oct 26th

    I just can’t get into the whole twitter thing. It pains me that as web professionals we even have to deal with it at all.

  • Mike Edward Moras (e-sushi™)

    Nov 4th

    My two cents: Twitter WAS nice until… they started slapping the dev community the door into their faces, the new design sure didn’t help, the new advertising doesn’t help, the promoted tweets are sneaking in your timeline like advertising on tv, the #FailWhale is seen almost daily and last but not least: when was the last time you catched yourself hunting for another #Follow4Follow?

    I think you should stay away from twitter if you’re a creative that actually expects to get things done too.

    There’s nothing a good search engine won’t provide. Also – looking at the resources and twitter backbone code and technology – I am eager to see if Twitter will survive 2012… the doomed year according to Nostradamus. By then, Twitter should have trippled their stored data, making their storage-needs grow near to Google’s… with one exception: 40% of the tweets are spam or spam-alike, 24% are adult-only and the rest of it are people thinking their friend are humans, not twitter-bot-scripts.

    In the end I keep wondering, why male humanoids that don’t spend more than 10 minutes on the phone when they call their mom, spend hours a day tweeting their breakfast habits to total strangers.

    Need an alternative to Twitter? Then open a window, take a deep breath of fresh air and start getting creative again!

    Oops… seems my 2 cents mutated into a long comment. Hope you don’t mind? ;)

  • Swoppers

    Dec 14th

    Awesome. Very informative tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  • Christian Louboutin Sneakers

    Apr 6th

    Thanks for your blog post. What I would like to bring about is that computer memory needs to be purchased should your computer cannot cope with what you do by using it. One can set up two good old ram boards with 1GB each, for instance, but not one of 1GB and one with 2GB. One should make sure the manufacturer’s documentation for own PC to be certain what type of memory is necessary.

  • Debate popular-Julio

    Jul 28th

    I usually use at night and I think until now a tool of distraction and yet very useful and as one lady said on TV Twiter is the waves of the waves

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